F5 Scales Network ADCs with BIG-IP 11.4

The BIG-IP software platform sits at the heart of all of F5’s Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs). The platform gets a major update today with the release of BIG-IP 11.4.

Alan Murphy, director of enterprise marketing architecture at F5, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that among the big-ticket items in the new BIG-IP release, the ScaleN architecture stands out.

“ScaleN is the culmination of a bunch of different features at both the hardware and software level,” Murphy said. “It allows the entire platform to scale and is responsible for deciding what application should be scaled and at what point.”

A core component of ScaleN is the iCall piece, which provides programmability to the scalability. The iCall technology is also integrated with F5’s Application Visibility and Reporting (AVR).

“AVR takes all the rich network information that is going through a BIG-IP environment and it correlates it back to the application that is leveraging the various network components,” Murphy said.

So for example, if 80 Gbps of traffic that is going through a BIG-IP device is identified as Microsoft Exchange traffic at 9 AM on a Monday, the system can spin up more instances to handle the load. Those same services can be wound down at the end of the day, when the additional instances are no longer required.

“iCall is the technology that connects what we see with AVR and then applies the scaling policy that we’ve built with ScaleN,” Murphy said. “iCall is the programmatic workhorse that determines when new resources are needed.”

With ScaleN, Murphy noted that an all-active network environment is possible.

“All-active is analogous to RAID, where you can continue to bring in new BIG-IP appliances and continue to build a scalable application delivery infrastructure that can grow as big as is needed, using all of the application delivery resources,”Murphy said. “If there is a failure, rather than failover from box 1 to box 2, we failover at the application level.”


F5 is also providing new integration and control points for Software Defined Networking (SDN) with the BIG-IP 11.4 release.

BIG-IP 11.4 now supports the VXLAN and NVGRE overlay protocols for SDN. When it comes to the OpenFlow protocol for SDN, F5 support is tied to its integration with SDN controller vendors.

“For OpenFlow, we work with controller vendors like Big Switch and Arista,” Murphy said. “So as new paths and routes need to be created, it’s the controller vendors that are making that happen and we integrate with those tools.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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